Pak­istan ac­cuses In­dia of killing seven troops

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The Pak­istani mil­i­tary ac­cused In­dia yes­ter­day of killing seven sol­diers in cross-bor­der fire in dis­puted Kash­mir, in what ap­peared to be an un­usu­ally high toll af­ter months of surg­ing ten­sions be­tween the nu­cle­ar­armed neigh­bors. “Seven (Pak­istani) sol­diers em­braced sha­ha­dat (mar­tyr­dom) at the Line of Con­trol (LoC) in Bhim­ber sec­tor in a cross­fire LOC vi­o­la­tion by In­dian troops late last night,” the mil­i­tary said in a state­ment. “Pak­istani troops while re­spond­ing to In­dian un­pro­voked fir­ing tar­geted In­dian posts ef­fec­tively.” There was no im­me­di­ate re­sponse to the al­le­ga­tion from In­dian of­fi­cials.

Ten­sions across the long-dis­puted de facto Hi­malayan bor­der reached dan­ger­ous lev­els in Septem­ber, when In­dia blamed Pak­istani mil­i­tants for a raid on an army base that killed 19 sol­diers. In­dia said it had re­sponded by car­ry­ing out “sur­gi­cal strikes” across the heav­ily mil­i­ta­rized bor­der, spark­ing a fu­ri­ous re­ac­tion from Is­lam­abad, which de­nied the strikes took place. There have since been re­peated out­breaks of cross-bor­der fir­ing, with both sides re­port­ing deaths and in­juries in­clud­ing of civil­ians, though the deaths of seven sol­diers in what ap­peared to be one such in­ci­dent is rel­a­tively high.

The bor­der skir­mishes come against the back­drop of months of protests against In­dian rule of Kash­mir, sparked by the killing of a pop­u­lar rebel leader in July. Nearly 90 peo­ple, most of them young pro­test­ers, have been killed in clashes with se­cu­rity forces in In­di­anad­min­is­tered Kash­mir since then. Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif ac­cused In­dia of car­ry­ing out the lat­est cross-bor­der skir­mishes in an ef­fort to dis­tract the world’s at­ten­tion from the vi­o­lent protests. “We are fully ca­pa­ble of de­fend­ing our soil against any ag­gres­sion,” he added in a state­ment.

Nearly 90 peo­ple, most of them young pro­test­ers, have been killed in clashes with se­cu­rity forces in In­di­anad­min­is­tered Kash­mir since the killing of a pop­u­lar young rebel leader in July. Kash­mir has been di­vided be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan since the end of Bri­tish colo­nial rule in 1947. Both claim the Hi­malayan ter­ri­tory in full and have fought two wars over the moun­tain­ous re­gion. The two sides have also ex­pelled diplo­mats in a tit-for-tat row that has even spilled into the glam­orous world of Bol­ly­wood.— AFP

JHELUM: Pak­istani army chief Ra­heel Sharif (4th left) and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials of­fer fu­neral prayers for sol­diers who were killed in cross-bor­der fir­ing at the Line of Con­trol (LoC) in Bhim­ber sec­tor, in Jhelum some 120 kms south of Is­lam­abad. — AFP

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